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Posts Tagged ‘Department of Land’

No action to revoke illegal SABL leases while logging industry man Pruaitch in charge

March 6, 2014 2 comments
A cartoon from 2003 depicting Rimbunan Hijau control over PNG politicians

Patrick Pruaitch is one of many Rimbunan Hijau puppets in Papua New Guinea

There will be no action to revoke illegal SABL leases while Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch remains in charge of the Prime Minister’s response to the huge land grab.

Pruaitch has been a staunch defender of the logging industry for more than a decade and has been directly involved in many of its corrupt and illegal deals

In particular, Pruaitch is a committed supporter of Rimbunan Hijau, the biggest beneficiary of the illegal SABL land grab. Pruaitch has been personally implicated in many of RH’s illegal logging deals over the past decade – as we reveal below thanks to the investigations of Masalai i Tokaut.

The Prime Minister has appointed a Task Force of three Ministers headed by Pruaitch together with Benny Allen and Tommy Tomscoll to implement the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommendation that 66 of 72 SABL leases be revoked because they are illegal.

But six months after its appointment the Task Force has not revoked a single illegal lease and the reasons for its inaction are obvious.The primary beneficiary of the illegal leases are foreign logging companies who are using the leases as cover for their fraudulent logging operations.

The Commission of Inquiry found that:

With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’

In 2012 alone the value of the logs stolen for illegal SABL lease areas was K172 million – and that is just the value of the raw logs. Once sawn into rough timber the value of the logs multiplies four or five times.

Patrick Pruaitch been heavily involved in the corrupt world of the logging industry since been appointed Forest Minister by Michael Somare after the 2002 election.  Since then Pruaitch has personally orchestrated many of the corrupt and illegal deals – many of them involving Rimbunan Hijau.

Pruaitch was a much slimmer before he started feasting off Rimbunan Hijau

Pruaitch was much slimmer before he started feasting off Rimbunan Hijau

Pruaitch first came to attention in 2003 when the State conveniently paid K150,000 to the lawyer Pruaitch had used in a private matter defending himself against an election petition. The lawyer, Joseph Yagi, was also the lawyer for controversial logging company Concord Pacific which had an extensive illegal operation in Western Province. Read more – Ministers lawyer paid by the State.

As Forest Minister Pruaitch then refused to take any action after an internal government inquiry reveled six new illegal logging deals, the largest three of which involved Rimbunan Hijau – The Robber Barons are still here. Pruaitch also personally rejected a decision of the National Forest Board to award a new logging concession to a non Rimbunan Hijau subsidiary – Forest Minister Pruaitch beyond the law – and intervened to stop the Forest Board discussing sanctions against RH for illegal and unsustainable logging – Forest Minister Unlawfully Intervenes.

In January 2004, Pruaitch’s defence of an illegal logging operation in New Ireland was exposed as being full of lies and misinformation – Ministers explanation full of lies. Later the same year Pruaitch was exposed for lying to Parliament – Forest Minister lied to Parliament.

In 2005 an internal Forest Authority audit report found Patrick Pruaitch had stolen more than K20,000 from the public purse through double-dipping. The auditors described the Ministers conduct as “dishonest, unethical and improper’ – Ministers conduct dishonest and corrupt.

In 2006 it was revealed how Rimbunan Hijau was even writing Pruaitch’s media releases as Minister –

Other examples of the close relationship between Pruaitch and the illegal operations of Rimbunan Hijau are revealed in:

Given this appalling history is it any wonder that no action has been taken by the O’Neill government to revoke the illegal SABL leases?

Australia lectures PNG on corruption and underdevelopment… Where is that mirror?

February 17, 2014 4 comments

Goodie. The Australian government has returned to the lectern to chastise PNG over corruption and lack of development. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has slammed the PNG government claiming corruption is rife, and laments PNG’s backward slide on the Millennium Development Goals.

julie-bishop2Which would be fine, were it not an act of complete policy schizophrenia. Because while the Australian Foreign Minister tut-tuts at PNG, her government – and those before it – pursue an economic agenda in PNG that fosters corruption and undermines community-led, sustainable ‘development’.

What’s more ‘aid’ is a key weapon employed by Australia to engineer economic arrangements in PNG it says will alleviate ‘poverty’, but which in reality have fostered corruption, a growing criminal economy, epic land grabs, a bloated extractive industry, lunar landscapes, and a decade long war.

For instance, no one has been more proactive in pushing the sale of PNG’s mineral, oil and gas resources to foreign multinationals than the Australia government, with AusAID – now part of DFAT – at the forefront of these efforts through its ‘mining for development’ programme. According to DFAT, ‘the mining sector has considerable potential to help reduce poverty, accelerate human development and economic growth, and support progress towards the Millennium Development Goals’.

In reality it creates a bonanza for Australian/Canadian/Chinese/US miners and construction firms, who conveniently turn a blind eye to the big black hole they dump their tax revenues into – and claim, contrary to all the evidence, that they are helping to ‘develop’ PNG.

The fact is these revenues are pumped into government coffers, and then national ‘entrepreneurs’, with a supporting cast of foreign criminals, devise a whole series of scams to privatise it, ensuring minimal amounts make it into aid posts, schools, roads, communications, universities and infrastructure (when it does, it is often decimated by bribery and inflated prices submitted by client contractors).

The scams vary in complexity. Sometimes they involve blatant misappropriation of money and assets, in more complex examples they consist of inflated contracts, bogus consultancies, jobs for mates, sham law suits, privatisation of public assets … the list goes on and on.

All of which is sustained because PNG lacks a real economy, one built around the everyday sweat shed by rural and urban workers. Instead there has emerged a fictitious economy built on misappropriation and swindle, which is propped up by the tribute (tax) paid by miners to political intermediaries (corrupted government agencies).  And lets not be naive – the miners are aware of the graft, and are content to see it continue. National leaders working for money are obedient, those working for the people don’t dance as readily to the multinational’s tunes.

And what is the other big Australian agenda that has been pushed by AusAID, and its academic satellites, over the years? Why the privatisation of customary land, through land registration schemes. If customary landowners were able to convert vast tracts of land into economic assets, so the argument goes, PNG could experience a grass roots economic boom.

Yet we know in those instances where land in PNG has been ‘converted’ into economic assets it has sparked a frenzy of white collar criminality. First the land is acquired through a series of illegal transactions, be it through defrauding customary owners or paying off friends in the Lands Department. The alienated asset then becomes part of a black economy, a reality that is covered up by the ‘legal’ leases proudly displayed by the villains. With their crooked schemes hidden under a cloak of legality these mainly foreign land-grabbers can then take advantage of sky-rocketing urban housing prices, or prey upon the country’s rich forestry resources. The national elite cashes in as fixers for these crooked deals, drawing on their political and customary connections.

All of this is laid out in the SABL inquiry reports, and Public Account Committee inquiries, currently collecting dust.

And some of the biggest names in PNG politics and business, have been involved in these nefarious trades and schemes. The likes of Peter Yama, Paul Paraka, Peter O’Neill, Michael Nali, Andrew Mald, Rex Paki, Gabriel Kapris, Tom Amaiu, Beldan Namah, Paul Tiensten, Eramus Wortoto, Puka Temu, William Duma, to name just a few, have been condemned in anti-corruption reporting, judicial inquiries, and in the pages of PNG Exposed.

So, in effect here is how it works. The Australian government wants to see a business and political elite mobilised so PNG can be converted into a giant market, on which its natural resources are the main traded item. Evidently the trickle down effect will lift villages out of what the aid boffins call ‘poverty’.

In reality it has 1) built a fictitious economy resting on the rents generated by a bloated extractive industry; 2) facilitated a black trade in land and forestry resources; 3) allowed a national elite, embedded in illegal enterprises, to consolidate their power and wealth-base, creating a stranglehold on the top jobs in government.

And then what happens when our honourable leaders park their ill-gotten gains in the Queensland economy, to the cheers of real estate agents? It falls on deaf ears in Australia. And what happens when Aussie fraudsters steal from our public purse, or concoct schemes to take our resources? It falls on deaf ears in Australia. And what happens when rural communities attempt to work collectively in order to harness their own resources in small-scale industries constructed in the spirit of sustainable, self-reliance? Nothing, they are not encouraged or assisted, indeed a self-reliant nation of autonomous producers is to be feared, and dependency is instead actively encouraged by Australia – dependency on mining revenues, dependency of foreign ‘investors’, dependency on resource rents, dependency on foreign ‘advice’, never autonomy, never self-reliance, never self-determination, never self-belief.

Julie Bishop, if PNG is a monster Australia is Dr Frankenstein!

Frankenstein

Crooked Aussies descend on Paga Hill… again

February 12, 2014 11 comments

In 2013, PNG Exposed revealed the crooked characters standing behind the demolition of Paga Hill in Port Moresby – which saw Dame Carol Kidu arrested and man-handled by heavily armed police.

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The ‘development’ is led by Australian businessman, Gudmundur Fridriksson, a man slammed in two Auditor General reports and four Public Accounts Committee inquiries. In the most serious example, Fridriksson was accused by both the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee of stealing money from deceased Papua New Guinean estates entrusted to the Public Curator’s Office. Nice.

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The House Deceased Papua New Guineans Built – Fridriksson’s Plush QLD Residence

Not to be outdone, he is now trying to once again demolish a forty year old Port Moresby community, who first resided on the land at Paga at the invitation of its customary owners.

Subsequently the Australian High Court found that the colonial administration had successfully acquired the land from customary owners – for no compensation – a few ‘corrupt’ transactions later, and it got into the hands of Fridriksson and his Australian friends during the 1990s.

Now with the help of their Port Moresby lawyer, Stanley Liria, a friend of the Prime Minister, and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Nali, another friend of the Prime Minister, they have acquired an eviction order from the courts.

Of course, the Lands Secretary could cancel the lease, like was ordered back in 2006. But why would he? After all Mr Romilly Kila-Pat unlawfully dropped the rent for Fridriksson back in 2001, losing the state hundreds of thousands of Kina in rent! And his hands are all over illegal SABLs.

Birds of a feather flock together, it would appear.

The community have been told they have 45 days to get out of a place they have lived since the 1960s.

Fridriksson has offered Paga residents what will in effect be a tenancy at will over at six-mile on customary land, right next to a defunct dump full of hospital and industrial waste. Nice.

The community does not want to leave. Their leaders want to see Paga Hill’s national park status restored and Paga Hill turned into Port Moresby’s first community run arts, culture and history precinct. They certainly have the talent.

A song recorded by the community to document their abuse at the hands of Fridriksson.

In the land of the unexpected, you can expect one thing – speculators from abroad with a long list of infamies to their name, come first, and law abiding PNG citizens come last.

SABL – An outstanding issue for PM O’Neill

January 24, 2014 2 comments

By Pasifika Media Wardrobes 

The Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) concept was found as a failed and illegal land scheme for Papua New Guineans and the many local landowners that underwent the concept of land leases.

Since the tabling of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the SABL in October 2013, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill promised that the reports were to be made public and action would be taken immediately.

Based on the findings and recommendations of the reports, Peter O’Neill himself labelled the SABL scheme as “a total failure to landowners” that involved a lot of illegalities, and he told parliament that his government will act on it.

But to date, that promise is not forthcoming, while many of the cases highlighted in the inquiry reports continue to carry on their illegal operations while landowners remain voiceless.

“A ministerial taskforce committee will be appointed to look into the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and will report to parliament,” said O’Neill when presenting the reports before parliament in October 2013.

But the status of the ministerial committee is unknown, and civil society organizations are still questioning the task of the committee.

On the other hand, Alois Jerewai (the commissioner who failed to hand in his report to parliament) gave his reasons for failing to meet the deadline set by the Prime Minister, adding that the COI was under-funded and it is reflected in the serious qualification to the COI report once allowed to be published.

“The Commission of Inquiry into the SABL received only K7 million out of the K15 million that the Prime Minister said it spent on this inquiry…I want to know where the other balance of K8 million was spent. It certainly was not spent on this COI,” said Jerewai.

The respective inquiry reports compiled by Chief Commissioner, John Numapo, and Commissioner, Nicholas Mirou, found that there was widespread abuse, fraud, lack of coordination between government agencies, failure and incompetence of government officials to ensure compliance, accountability and transparency within the SABL process.

The reports highlighted that throughout the course of the inquiry, serious allegations were levelled against officials and senior government bureaucrats involved in the management of SABL, with bribes and inducements being offered by project developers and representatives of landowner companies to procure SABL titles.

The inquiry also received evidence of undue political pressures being put on government officials by senior Ministers and politicians to fast-track SABL applications and issue titles. Incidences of political interference were numerous and were reported in respective individual SABL reports.

The reports overall findings pointed out that there was corruption and mismanagement, and lack of coordination by key agencies including departments of Lands and Physical Planning, Environment and Conservation, Agriculture and Livestock, Provincial Affairs and Local Level Government, Investment Promotion Authority, PNG Forest Authority, and the Forest Clearance Authority.The reports stated that the entire land management system in PNG is in a mess and recommended that the SABL process should be done away with or a workable policy be formulated on SABL that benefits local landowners.

It stands a sad fact that the Commission of Inquiry reports have not been made public, not even to those concerned, the landowners.

Executive Director of PNG Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker says he hopes SABL doesn’t become another issue that the Government sweeps under the carpet.

“There was a public outcry when the Government failed to hand in reports of the commission of inquiry, and after much pressure they were presented to parliament. And let’s hope there is action on the findings and recommendations set by the inquiry,” said Barker.

Executive Director of Partners with Melanesians, Ken Mondiai added that the Government must cancel all SABLs and hand over land titles to landowners.

“The inquiry has already found that most operations of SABL were illegal and the PM himself declared it as a miserable failure,” said Mondiai.

Tony Power, a local from East Sepik say 38 of the 42 leases mentioned in the report were fraudulently obtained by foreign companies “and they must be cancelled and returned back to the rightful landowners.”

“Local landowners have waited for far too long and it is almost over 10 years…their land and resources must be returned to them,” said Power.

Ends//

Rimbunan Hijau, the SABL puppeteer

January 16, 2014 2 comments

You wont be reading this in The National (The Daily Log), here is one of the key findings of the COI into SABL:

 ‘The most shocking instance abuse we have discovered is in relation to the practice of extracting logs under the pretext of genuine SABL activities. We find it to be a current and ongoing practice. We are convinced that some SABL project proponents are not genuine developers of agro-forestry projects. They appear not to be here for the long haul but only for as long as it takes to log out their subleases. They appear to use fancy agriculture development plans and project development agreements as red herring to obtain permits to log out huge tracts of forest lands. They mislead and deceive landowners with the assistance of corrupt government officials. They literally pay off assertive clan leaders and then use divide and rule tactics to obtain subleases. Genuinely motivated landowners desperate for development and basic services are easy prey for these people. Some landowners are deceived by promises of instant wealth. Still other landowners, those who are particularly incapable of working their SABLs themselves, are forced to opt for unacceptable and risky lease arrangements. With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders’.

A preponderance of the evidence before us indicate that logging companies are the biggest beneficiaries of the SABL scheme. Most sublease holders are using sublease agreements primarily to extract logs. Most of them do not even make the attempt to clear fell harvested areas to start work on the agriculture component. They take full advantage by exploiting the flawed lease-leaseback process and capitalize on the poorly regulated and badly administered oversight apparatus. Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’.

The SABL Commission of Inquiry reports

January 13, 2014 1 comment

SABL Case Study 11: The Kassman family and their fraudulent LNG land deals

December 16, 2013 1 comment

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 1: Pages 143 – 166

Gerrard Kassman and his sons Charles and John are the beneficiaries of two illegal and fraudulent SABL land deals close to Port Moresby that seek to cash in on the Exxon-Mobil LNG project.

 “There was misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [p164]

The forging of landowner signatures “borders on fraud and is a criminal act” [p151]

“KHL and CJV are owned by one family to the exclusion of all other legitimate landowners” [p150].

“the sublease made to the developer CJ Ventures [is] fraudulent and improper” [p156]

“it was obvious that officers from DLPP [including] Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices” [p153}

"The whole process is riddled with defects and flaws" [p157]

“the conduct of Mr Mai [of Kundu lawyers] raises a lot of questions… Mr Mai’s conduct is unbecoming of a professional lawyer” [p155] He “acted improperly and unprofessionally” [p157]

“The manner in which the SABL application was processed… is a blatant disregard of the law and those responsible must be held accountable for their unlawful conduct and actions” [p165]

“We accordingly recommend that the SABL[s]… to be REVOKED” [p157]

This Case Study covers the Special Agriculture and Business Lease over Portions 2465C and 2466C

These adjacent SABLs cover a total area of 980ha in the Motu-Koita villages of Papa and Lealea near the LNG Plant site and approximately 15km from Port Moresby.

Direct Grants of 99 year leases were made to Konekaru Holdings in 2010.

Landowners “were not adequately consulted and were not involved in the process and have not given their consent for the SABL[s]” [p146]

Gerald Kassman is not a landowner as he comes from Korobosea and has no ancestral links to the leased land.

KHL has appointed CJ Ventures as the developer of the project (CJV is owned by Gerard Kassman’s sons Charles and John) and signed a sub-lease.

“KHL and CJV are owned by one family to the exclusion of all other legitimate landowners” [p150].

The purpose of the sub-lease is to make land available to Exxon-Mobil for storage and other purposes.

“There was no land investigations carried out and no public hearings or meetings. Most importantly, majority of the landowners have not given their consent to lease their land for SABL” [p152]

Konekaru Holdings is owned by Gerard Kassman and Henao Tetei [p147]. KHL is not a landowner company as intended for the purposes of holding an SABL – “this defeats the whole intent and purpose of SABL” [p156]

“The LIR [Land Investigation Report] was incomplete and defective, the Certificate of Alienation was signed under duress…” [p157]

The LIR and Lease-lease back agreement is defective as only two people signed on behalf of all the listed landowners and in some instances forged the signatures of other landowners. This “borders on fraud and is a criminal act” [p151]

DLPP failed to consult with Provincial lands officers in carrying out the land investigation process which is normally a Provincial responsibility.

“No officers from the Division of Lands Department of Central Province were involved in the LIP and other processes leading up to the issuing of the SABLs for the three portions” [p152]

“it was obvious that officers from DLPP comprising Lazarus Malesa, Simon Malu, Henry Wasa and Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when they decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]

“It is clear the land investigation process was ‘high jacked’ by officers from DLPP when this is clearly the function of Lands Division of the Department of Central” [p154]

“The whole process is riddled with defects and flaws” [p157]

The term of the sublease exceeds the term of the head lease “which is improper and unlawful” [p154]

The Register of Titles, Henry Was a, registered the SABL despite an existing land dispute.

“This is careless and reckless discharge of an official function” [p154]

“Romily Kila-Pat in his capacity as Acting Secretary for DLPP and a Ministerial Delegate… went ahead to grant the SABLs for Portions 2456C and 2466C despite the fact the LIR was defective and the Lease-leaseback Agreement fraudulently acquired” [p154]

Emmanuel Mai of Kundu Legal Services was “heavily involved in facilitating the production of the LIR and ‘rushed’ the Lands Officers of Central Provincial Administration to sign the LIR which was incomplete and not properly done” [p154]

“the conduct of Mr Mai raises a lot of questions… he was exerting pressure and to some degree coerced government officials into signing… Mr Mai’s conduct is unbecoming of a professional lawyer” [p155]

He “acted improperly and unprofessionally in facilitating the application and processing of the SABL” [p157]

“The informed consent of ALL landowners was not obtained… Konekaru Holdings Limited is not a landowner company. Furthermore … the sublease made to the developer CJ Ventures [is] fraudulent and improper” [p156]

“The LIR was incomplete and defective and the certificate of Alienation was signed under duress… There seem to have been a lot of controversies at every stage… All these issues and concerns should be reason enough for DLPP not to issue this particular SABL but yet it proceeded to issue the SABL. This raises a lot of questions” [p157]

Their has been no Environmental Inception Report submitted to DEC nor an Environmental Impact Statement. No Environmental Permit has been issued. [p153]

“The intimidation tactics used by the officers from DLPP and the lawyers to hasten the processing and granting of the SABL is both unacceptable and unprofessional” [p164]

“The SABL … was improper and unlawful as proper processes and procedures … have not been complied with… There are a lot of irregularities, defects and breaches in the granting of this SABL… that .. cannot lawfully stand” [p157]

“We accordingly recommend that the SABL[s]… to be REVOKED” [p157]

SABL Case Study No.10: Neville Harsley and the Trans Papuan Highway fraud

December 13, 2013 7 comments

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 2: Pages 390 – 530

There were “serious defects in the process that we observe are fraudulent and corruptible” [p505]

On the increase in the forest clearance corridor from 40m to 10,000m: “The C.O.I finds this to be erroneous, misleading and mischievous.. [it also] contradicts the statutory requirements” [p397]

It was “illegal or fraudulent” [p405]

“IT&SL manipulated the landowners companies… to acquire customary land under the SABL process, a hallmark tainted with corruption involving DLPP, Department of Western Province and the executives of the umbrella landowner companies…” [p429]

“… the technical Working Group endorsed by the NEC was only a smokescreen for the engagement of IT&SL… proper tender process was not followed” [p392/3]

A Project Agreement was executed despite an “absence of proper negotiations of the Agreement by the relevant State Agencies” [p395]

“The is evidence that all the executives of the landowner company expressed concern that they did not know what they were signing and that no copy of the agreement was provided” [p396]

“We recommend further investigation…of Messrs [Paul] Japhlom, [Neville] Harsely, [John] Malcachy to establish if an international racketeering over land acquisition has been committed by the company(s)” [p402/3]

“Mr [Michael] Titus must be referred to the PNG Law Society for his involvement with the landowner companies whilst been [sic] paid by IT&SL”  [p436]

Simon Malu, “failed in his duties as the Director – Customary Leases [DLPP] to conduct proper due diligence on the LIR we find contained gross defects and anomalies [p450]

IT&SL was “directly manipulating the SABL lease back process” this was “absolutely encouraged by the agencies of the State whose responsibilities border on gross negligence” [p402]

“The decision of the Commission [is] to revoke the SABL” [p403]

“The PNG Forest Authority should cancel the FCA” [p509]

This case study covers the four Special Agriculture and Business Leases linked to the proposed construction of the Trans Papuan Highway through Western Province.

The SABLs cover Portion 27C Awin Pari, 1C Awin Pari, 14C and 1C Aibolo – a total of 2 million hectares [p402]

The developer is International Timber and Stevedoring Limited (IT&SL). IT&SL is a foreign company registered in the USA. It has a PNG registered branch office. The current Directors are two Australian citizens, Neville Harsely and Clifford Frazer.

The company has no real presence in Kiunga and no heavy machinery or office infrastructure to carry out the project [p421 & 429] It has not complied with the terms of its IPA certificate and “may be liable for prosecution” [p421]

The proposed road is supported by the people of Awin Pari, Nomad and Wawoi Falls and the North Fly Provincial and National governments. It would link the township of Kiunga, Tabubil, Nomad, Wawoi Falls through Gulf and Central Province to Port Moresby.

Phase One of the project is the Aiambak-Kiunga-Gre-Drimgas road. The second phase connects Drimgas-Nomad-Wawoi Falls.

The idea for the road was first raised in 2002 with logs harvested along a 2km corridor to pay for the construction costs. At this stage there was no intention to create SABLs, it was simply a road project to be paid for through logging. The idea of an SABL was only raised when changes to the Forestry Act limited the length of any roadline Forest Clearance Authority to 12.5km [p413]

In March 2002 the National Executive Council (NEC) approved in principle the construction of Stage Two with Department of Works (DoW) as the lead State agency.

“… for a national project concerning a national road, proper tender process was not followed in the engagement of IT&SL” [p392]

“… the technical Working Group endorsed by the NEC was only a smokescreen for the engagement of IT&SL” [p393]

In 2008 NEC directed the Minister for Commerce and Industry to obtain the necessary Forest Clearance Authority from the PNG Forest Authority. This was “not within the ambit of that ministry” which should have been DoW.

In March 2011 NEC advised the Governor General to execute a Project Agreement between the State, IT&SL and Western Province.

The agreement was executed in May 2011, despite an “absence of proper negotiations of the Agreement by the relevant State Agencies” [p395] and “the absence of the most important stakeholders” [p398]

“The is evidence that all the executives of the landowner company expressed concern that they did not know what they were signing and that no copy of the agreement was provided” [p396]

“The Commission finds [the Project Agreement] contravenes Sections of the Fairness of Transactions Act” [p396]

The signed Project Agreement allows for the harvesting of timber for a distance of 5,000 metros on either side of the road while the draft Agreement prepared by the State Solicitor only allowed a 40m road corridor.

“The C.O.I finds this to be erroneous, misleading and mischievous” and contradicts the Forestry Act [p397}

The period of the agreement for twenty-five years "is questionable" as to "whether it takes twenty-five years to construct a 600km redline" [p397]

“The project agreement.. is not binding and enforceable because it fails to meet necessary statutory requirements” [p404]

The Land Investigation Report signed by Mr Imen Ita Papa as the Provincial Lands Officer was not done by him. Instead the LIR was complied by IT&SL [p392 & 415]

A number of existing State Leases including ones for the Runginae Rural Hospital and five rural health centers and other aid posts and mission stations were not excised from the SABL area.

The application for the SABL over Portion 27C was submitted after the title had already been issued

“This indicates the fraudulent nature by which IT&SL colluded with DLPP to fraudulently acquire the said SABLs” [p431]

THE LIR was collated by IT&SL and then given to the officers in the Department of Western Province to sign. They signed “knowing it to be false”. They signed in Port Moresby but the LIR says it was signed in Kiunga “which was false” [p431]

The Recommendation for Alienability was signed in Port Moresby but the place of signing indicates Kiunga “which is totally false and misleading” [p432]

People appointed as agents for one land group were also found to be agents in two or three other groups. This is “improper and fraudulent” [p432]

“Mr [Michael] Titus must be referred to the PNG Law Society for his involvement with the landowner companies whilst been [sic] paid by IT&SL constituting serious ethical questions over the conduct of his legal services tp competing interests” [p436]

The twenty six separate LIR contained no recommendations for reservations to be made for customary use thus extinguishing all customary rights for 99 years.

There was no evidence of a Certificate of Alienability having been issued over Portion 27C [p444]

Landowners consent to the building of the road “was manipulated by IT&SLto obtain access to all the hectares of prime pristine forest which is suspicious and fraudulent” [p448]

Simon Malu Director Land Acquisition DLPP, “failed in his duties as the Director – Customary Leases to conduct proper due diligence on the LIR we find contained gross defects and anomalies… No due diligence was conducted and it is evident that he was merely been [sic] directed by IT&SL… he had already compromised his position when he was paid allowances [by] IT&SL over the said project” [p450]

“Mr Malo should be disciplined for not doing his job and the result of that neglect of duty has led to the lack of integrity in the SABL process” [p451]

The FCA issued by the PNGFA was for a 40 metro wide corridor. [p452] IT&SL “deliberately increased” this to 5000m either side of the road in its Project Agreement with the State.

The SABL for Portion 14C was granted to Toigba Investment Limited. Tosigba is not incorporated as a company in PNG and does not exist.

In relation to the SABL over Portion 14C “There is a glaring contradiction between the term as set out in the notice of Direct Grant and the term set out in the lease entered into between the State and the landowners. In the lease, landowners are willing to give away their land for only 25 years, whilst in the Notice of Direct Grant, 99 years” [p506]

SABL Case Study No.9: Continental Venture and the Middle Ramu

December 11, 2013 1 comment

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 2: Pages 867-899

Continental Ventures Limited “failed completely to ensure transparency and good governance in its dealings with the landowners of the SABL project area.” [p875].

“We make adverse findings against Mr Simon Malo for being so reckless in his handling of the land Investigation Report” [p886]

“The blank LIR basically … ultimately nullifies the SABL lease” [p886]

“I find that Mr Daink [Deputy Secretary Department of Agriculture] should be held accountable for approving a plan that is not feasible to implement… this Desktop document was designed to fool state agencies responsible for proper vetting and in this case DAL failed in its duties” [p898]

“The C.O.I. is also critical on the role of the Director of Environment in not conducting any due diligence on whether the SABL title has been issued and also if there was DAL approval to the Board of PNG Forest Authority to approve FCA for the project”. [p892]

“Given the lack of relevant state agency cooperation and production of information pertaining to this project we are unable to ascertain the current state of affairs…” [p880]

“The C.O.I recommends revocation of SABL Portion 16C because the fundamental requirement… was fundamentally flawed and is null and void” [p898]

This case study covers the Special Agriculture and Business Lease over Portion 16C in Madang Province.

The SABL covers 112,400 hectares of customary land in the Savai and Annaberg areas of the Middle Ramu in Madang Province.

The area is very remote and “means of excess is very difficult and the only means is by foot using local bush tracks otherwise using helicopter” [p873]

The area is owned by 11 landowner groups consisting of about 500 members.

A SABL over Portion 16C was issued to Urasir Resources Limited (URL) for a term of 99 years in March 2011 by Romilly Kil-Pat.

The purpose of the lease was stated as agricultural business for oil palm and other commercial crops for export purposes. As the lease area is “one of the most remote and least developed areas of Madang province” [p883] and only accessible on foot or by helicopter this seems rather ludicrous.

Urasir Resources was incorporated in September 2011 with a registered address and postal address in the National Capital District. This landowner company had ten shareholders from the Middle Ramu each with one share. They were also the Directors of the company.

Continental Venture Limited (CVL) is the ‘development partner’. It is “owned solely by Malaysian nationals” [p881] “CVL is owned by Mr Hien Ming Wong” [p882] although it seems Giant Kingdom International Limited is the principal shareholder [p882]. The company is registered in the British Virgin Islands.

A sub-lease was granted “whereby CVL was given absolute power and rights to the exclusion of the landowner company … Control of operations was vested in CVL by virtue of both the project development agreement and sublease agreement” [p880]

The sublease to CVL “is for a period of 66 years… at a rent of K2 per hectare per annum” [p896]

CVL “initiated and funded” [p874] an “illegal meeting” [p875] to remove the Chairman and Director of URL and insert a new landowner faction.

CVL”failed completely to ensure transparency and good governance in its dealings with the landowners of the SABL project area.” [p875].

Evidence was given to the inquiry that landowners were forced to sign papers in the night without knowing what they were signing.

Rodney Robin Bakou (or Bakon or Bako) is the General Manager for CJV. “The very divisive and [sic] Mr Bako should be investigated if he has breached any laws with respect to employment and residency permit” [p883]

“He was the main driver of the split between the Landgroups [sic]” [p883]

CVL has the SABL title and ILG certificate and is actively pursuing necessary approvals from Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Department of Environment (DEC) and PNGFA.

The Land Investigation Report is unsigned and includes an unsigned schedule of owners. The Agency Agreement and Declaration as to Custom have been signed (although not by everyone). The LIR was undertaken by Simon Malu and Simon Holis as acting Managers Customary Land Acquisitions, and Christabel Maino, Lands Officer.

“The Land Investigation Report advice offered by Mr Simon Malo … was in my view reckless, negligent, that behaviour unbecoming of a senior officer… We consider this to be in breach of the Code of Conduct of public servants evidently compromising the integrity of the SABL process.” [p886]

“He should be disciplined for the role he played in preparing a blank LIR bearing no signature and … no reservation made for the customary rights over land to continue” [p886]

“The Land Investigation Report and the Recommendation for Alienability was not referred to the Custodian of Trust land for due diligence. There was no Certificate of Alienability issued by the Custodian of Trust Land to allow for the registration and issuance of the SABL title.” [p887]

DAL submitted a bound volume of documents titled “Detailed Agriculture Development”, apparently submitted to DAL by CVL. The plan included forest clearance and oil palm and rubber plantations over 91,830 hectares.

“We deduce … the detailed Agriculture Development Plan … submitted to DAL … was insufficient…” [p888]

However, in a letter dated March 2011, DAL informed CVL that its Agriculture Development Plan was approved and, subject to a public hearing be conducted, a certificate of compliance for forest clearance could be issued.

The Malaysian consultant who produced the plan for CVL never visited the site. [p897]

“The plan in itself was not prepared in consultation with relevant authorities and lacks quality in terms of its overall implementation schedules… the difficult terrain and lack of road infrastructure was a major feat for CVL to conquer” [p898]

“The C.O.I is very critical of CVLs behaviour in preparation of the Plans” [p897]

“Mr Daink [Deputy Secretary DAL] should be held accountable for approving a plan that is not feasible to implement … this Desktop document was designed to fool state agencies responsible for proper vetting and in this case DAL failed in its duties””

CVL submitted an Environmental Permit application to DEC in 2010, before the SABL was issued – “we find this practice to be highly irregular and inconsistent with the process under .. the Forest Act 2000″ [p892]

DEC approved the Environment Inception Report and accepted the Environmental Impact Statement from CVL despite the fact at that time there was no SABL, no DAL approval and no FCA from the Forest Authority.

“The C.O.I. is also critical on the role of the Director of Environment in not conducting any due diligence on whether the SABL title has been issued and also if there was DAL approval to the Board of PNG Forest Authority to approve FCA for the project”. [p892]

“The C.O.I recommends revocation of SABL Portion 16C because the fundamental requirement of the Land Investigation Process, the grant under Section 11,,, and subsequently the registration and the Issuance of Title… was fundamentally flawed and is null and void” [p898]

Prime Minister O’Neill: Lying or lied to over SABL land grab?

December 9, 2013 Leave a comment
Either Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is deliberately lying or he has been misled by his advisors...

Either Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is deliberately lying or he has been seriously lied to by his advisors…

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is either blatantly lying to the people of PNG over the SABL land grab, or he is being lied to by his own advisors.

The Prime Minister keeps repeating the same statement, that the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommended the SABL leases continue.

This is completely untrue – yet no one in the media or Parliament is challenging this blatant deception. 

The Prime Minister said it in Parliament in September: “… the Commission has recommended that SABLs be continued” [1] UNTRUE

And he said it again in a statement released by his Department 10-days ago and published in both national daily newspapers, “… the Commission had recommended in the final report that the leases (SABLs) be continued” [2] UNTRUE and “… the commission had recommended in the report that the leases (SABLs) be continued” [3] UNTRUE

The Prime Minister is simply lying – as the Commission of Inquiry makes clear in its summary of the leases reviewed [4] – that summary is reproduced below and is attached here: Summary – COI SABL

As everyone can see, the Commission of Inquiry has recommended

  • 30 SABL leases be revoked
  • 3 be suspended
  • 2 be surrendered
  • 4 be amended (and/or other remedy)
  • 4 be retained

Another 3 of the 46 leases reviewed have already been revoked by the courts.

So you can see, the Prime Minister is LYING when he says the Commission has recommended the leases be continued. The CoI has recommended only 8 of 46 be continued (and 4 of those 8 need to be amended),

The Prime Minister was also LYING when he said in Parliament “We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”. [1]

That is exactly what IS happening and the Prime Minister, by refusing to revoke the leases, is allowing it to happen.

The Prime Minister also claims the government ‘will do all it can to take back land that is illegally taken away from Papua New Guineans’. [2][3]

Not true Prime Minister. If you were doing all you can you would instruct the Department of Lands to revoke the leases.

The only question is whether the Prime Minister is intentionally lying or whether he has been misled by the people who advise him.

Has the Prime Minister read the SABL Commission of Inquiry reports?

If he has then he is lying to the people of PNG.

If he has not, and he is relying on the word of his advisors then he should sack them because they are lying to him.

[1] http://www.actnowpng.org/content/prime-ministers-statement-parliament-sabl
[2] http://www.actnowpng.org/content/government-lying-it-not-dealing-decisively-sabl-land-grab
[3] http://www.thenational.com.pg/?q=node/60582
[4] http://www.coi.gov.pg/documents/COI%20SABL/Summary%20-%20COI%20SABL.pdf
 
Summary_COI_page1
 
Summary_COI_page2
Summary_COI_page3
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